My last summer of college, I had a friend come visit me at home in Virginia Beach. Once they arrived, we didn’t stay at the house long before I told my parents we were going to the beach. I backed down my driveway only for my friend to cry out, “Stop!”
I had backed out of the driveway and dragged my side view mirror down the side of my mom’s year-old van. A white streak adorned its gold body.
Me: “Oh no.”
I had to decide right then if I should continue going backward or go forward. Either way, my mirror remained in contact with the van.
I left my friend in the car and walked up to my house. “Mom?”
“I sorta just hit your van. I was backing down the driveway and… I’ll pay for the damage.”
She rushed outside, thinking I had T-boned the van, but ladies and gentlemen, I’m not that bad of a driver. My mom decided her new racing stripe was not the end of the world, but “you’ll have to tell your dad.”
That night my friend joined us for dinner. My dad asked me to lead us in prayer.
“God, thank you for this food and thank you for everyone here at the table. Please be with everyone here, and our friends, our family, and all the people we don’t know. And please be with my dad when he finds out I backed my car into the van this morning.”
I opened my eyes.
My dad stared at me.
Me: “Yeah, so I scratched the side of the van today.”
Thankfully, my parents value cars only minimally more than me. They never made me pay to get the van touched up. To this day it bears the racing stripe I gave it. And my friend remembers the time I made her sit through a prayer where I confessed my sins.
I’ve never bragged I’m a great driver. I’ll tell the van story to anyone. They then usually ask someone else to drive their car. But I openly declare my aversion to driving and preference for someone else to take the wheel. I walk when I can. I drive my car maybe once every other week. And when my car ended up with a bunch of scratches and dents last year, I honestly could not decide whether I had backed into a trashcan (which I had) or if a bicycle might have clipped my car (which could have happened, too). I didn’t think the trashcan incident was that violent.
You’d think I’d have a bunch of tickets from my driving. Which I do have tickets, but not for the right things. I’ve been ticketed for turning right on red and speeding. These are not my usual crimes.
I’ve never been ticketed me for driving over boulders at puppy farms, into mailboxes (my parents’ own mailbox), and over curbs in movie theater parking lots while my mom grips her door handle (“oops, I didn’t see that there”). Of course, if a cop did see these things, they would probably think the damage to my car is enough.
One time I did run a red light, but I totally just didn’t see it (which is far worse in retrospect). But then I looked in my rearview mirror and there was a cop car BEHIND ME. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road. But the cop didn't flash his lights or come for me. He drove right past.
I didn’t drive for the next week. (But that’s nothing new for me, so…)
Last week I went to get an oil change. I bottomed out as I pulled into the parking lot. All the mechanics heard and watched as I clunked into a parking space. I always forget my car’s carriage is so close to the ground. (I’m proud of myself for using the word “carriage.”)
I probably shouldn’t have asked the mechanics to then service my car after they saw me batter it like that, but whatever. I told them I needed an oil change.
Mechanic: “Do you need it back tonight?”
Me: “Nah. Keep it however long you need it. I never drive it.”
An hour later they called me telling me the car was leaking something that looked like an oil, a belt needed to be fixed, and something else that totaled to $300. $100 of that was just to diagnose it. Meanwhile, when I dropped it off, I was expecting it to be a $20 one-and-done.
Me: “Let me call my dad.”
Dad said to pay for it.
Dad: “Did you notice anything wrong with it before you took it in?”
Me: “Pssh, no.”
The mechanic called back the next day and said they had diagnosed it. It would be $800 more.
When I told my parents, my mom suggested we let it go and just get a new car. She also implied I would be part of the new car purchase.
Me: “I don’t want a car. I don’t need a car. I’m not buying a new car.”
I sounded like a spoiled brat, and maybe I am one, but I mapped out my life for the next six months. The only time I anticipated needing a car was for Easter. Well, that’s my parents’ problem, not mine. Ultimately, my parents and I split the cost of the repairs.